Senate Passes Broadband Economic Impact Bill

Multichannel has the story:

The Senate has passed the Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act, according to its co-sponsors, by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who co-chair the Senate Broadband Caucus.

It was reported favorably out of the Commerce Committee May 15.

The bill is the latest effort in a political season where broadband access is an election issue–Klobuchar is running for President.

The bill was only introduced four weeks ago, but getting better broadband data is a bipartisan issue on the HIll.

Currently the FCC is collecting input on how to better gauge where broadband is or isn’t by collecting more accurate and reliable data. The bill’s goal is to gauge the effect of the digital economy and broadband deployment on the economy by collecting accurate data.

It would require the Bureau of Economic Analysis, with input from the Department of Commerce, whose NTIA arm is also charged with getting a better handle on where broadband is or isn’t, to conduct the study of “broadband deployment and adoption of digital-enabling infrastructure, e-commerce and platform-enabled peer-to-peer commerce, and the production and consumption of digital media.”

“Every family in America should have access to broadband internet connection, no matter their zip code” Klobuchar said. “The purpose of this legislation is to use accurate and reliable data to prove how critical broadband deployment is to our economy. I look forward to this bill being signed into law soon and getting one step closer to bridging the digital divide.”

It is hard to fix something when you do not know where is it broken. More accurate data collected and analyzed will benefit rural communities where the biggest coverage gaps reside. Once local policymakers fully understand the economics of broadband more will get on board and support the development of community networks.

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Supervisors Deny 70 Household Critical Infrastructure

Note:  This letter to The Union Editor was submitted on 30 May 2019

Nevada County supervisors oppose new cell tower read the headline!

“Nevada County Supervisor Ed Scofield said he usually supports new cell towers. However, he wasn’t going to approve one at 13083 Wildlife Lane.
Speaking near the end of a Tuesday hearing for a tower, Scofield said the proposed 110-foot AT&T tower would bring broadband access to only some 70 homes.”
In today’s digital world Broadband access has become critical infrastructure, just like water, power and waste management according to the Brookings Institute, California Public Utilities Commission, the Federal Communication Commission and other future assessing organizations.
Would the Supervisors deny 70 households access to water, power, or waste management? No! So why do they deny 70 homes access to more economic opportunity, better education, and healthcare that is available on this critical infrastructure called broadband?
I have invested 1,000 of hours promoting broadband in Nevada County, mapping broadband deficiencies, working with Congress and the FCC to promote federal investment in rural broadband. Now that it has arrived Supervisor Schofield says, “We do not need that” Really, how clueless to the needs of modern digital society can a Supervisor be?
This kind of leadership is destroying the economic potential of a beautiful County. It would help if Nevada County had a more knowledgeable representative.

Starks: Race to 5G Could Bypass No-Gs

 

The U.S. needs to guard against internet inequity

For all the talk about the U.S. winning the race to 5G, FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks is concerned that the country will race right by with no-G.

In a speech at Georgetown University, Starks, the newest member of the commission, said he wanted to lay down a market on one of the most important issues the country faces. That is getting broadband to the over 24 million without access to broadband at any speed.

Starks said he feared the transition to 5G was also a transition from a digital divide to an “internet inequality.”

“I am worried about a world where those with much get even more, and everyone else gets left behind,” he said.

Continue Reading HERE.

This is a real threat to rural communities. Telecommunications is an ROI driven business and the sparse density of rural counties cannot make the ROI hurdle without some government help. Some 5G technologies are not rural friendly, and will not be used. Others can only provide a marginal improvement over 4G, which many communities do not have, and will not have for years, as the Connect American II program has a 10-year build-out schedule. It is not likely that low band 5G will be replacing newly installed 4G in an ROI world.

 

Both AT&T and T-Mobile Own Low Band 5G Spectrum – Why it matters

Light Reading has a 5G article that covers why this is important to potential rural customers. All the hype and concern about health issues has been about mmWave installation. Rural customers need to focus on the low band implementation of 5G, which both AT&T and T-Mobile have a role to play.

Light Reading: Why this matters

5G remains a hot topic in the wireless industry, but so far most 5G deployments have been done using millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum. Such spectrum generally sits above 20GHz and is able to transmit huge amounts of data but cannot travel more than a few thousand feet. Thus, today’s 5G mmWave networks from the likes of Verizon and AT&T only cover a handful of city blocks in a handful of large cities.

However, due to the physical propagation characteristics of low-band spectrum like 600MHz or 700MHz, operators like T-Mobile or AT&T could easily cover whole cities with just one cell tower. Thus, low-band spectrum will play a critical role in pushing 5G into more and more parts of the US.

The tradeoff though is that low-band spectrum can’t transmit as much data as mmWave spectrum. For example, Verizon’s mmWave 5G network has been averaging around 500Mbit/s with peaks above 1Gbit/s, while T-Mobile’s CTO has acknowledged that 5G on the operator’s 600MHz spectrum likely will clock in around 60-70Mbit/s. AT&T will probably see similar speeds on its 700MHz 5G network.

Well, 60-70 Mbits is better than no bits at all. Stay Tuned 5G is coming, the question is will SpaceX Statlink get there before rural 5G?  If they both arrive in your neighborhood, will competition drive down the price? Yes!  Capitalism is wonderful!

Picking Up The Broadband Tab

— Internet connectivity is back in the spotlight today as Trump meets with Democratic leaders to discuss how to pay for a possible $2 trillion infrastructure plan (which could help fund both rural broadband and AI). House Energy and Commerce, meanwhile, holds a hearing on Democrats’ legislation slating $40 billion for broadband. “The only way we’re going to get rural broadband deployment is with money,” telecom subcommittee chair Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) told John. “There just isn’t a business case to do it.” The big question: Where’s this cash coming from?

— Doyle expressed interest in auctioning C-band airwaves, which he says could generate tens of billions of dollars for broadband buildout. Former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn (now a T-Mobile adviser) will testify that $40 billion is necessary and should go toward gigabit-speed internet.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Note: The Infrastructure talks have broken up due to some name calling by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

Pelosi ratchets up rhetoric, says Trump may have committed ‘impeachable offense’ in ‘plain sight’

Trump walks out of the meeting after three minutes.   This is not how to get critical infrastructure plan in place.  Your thoughts?

The Beckville Network — DIY Fiber Innovation

By Russ Steele

Access to the VAST fiber optic network in Western Nevada County is . . . “what we need”

“I’m self-employed from a home office. Access to this broadband has improved my productivity immensely and reduced downtime. I often have to watch videos for research or shuttle large files to clients, and now I never have to worry about somebody else in the household (like my teenage son) using streaming services at the same time. We all get what we need.

Beckville Network Board Member

I learned about the innovative Beckville Network and it’s connection to the VAST fiber network in Nevada County from Peter Brown and Chelsea Walterscheid at the Sierra Business Council when Peter interviewed me for his Nevada County Broadband Strategic Plan Project. During the interview, he told me about a recent meeting he had with Mike McLaughlin, Beckville Network CEO. Mike is the lead innovator for the non-profit corporation that operates the network. 

Why a non-profit corporation? VAST will not provide service to an individual, only business or corporation. To gain access to the VAST fiber network required the formation of a formal business entity, in this case, a non-profit corporation.

I contacted Mike by email and he graciously agrees to an internet interview, which I have edited for length and clarity 

The Beckville Network is a fixed wireless network with a point of presence (POP) on the VAST Fiber network that follows Newtown Road west of Nevada City. The POP provides dedicated 200Mbps symmetrical access. From the POP the Corporation provides Wireless bi-directional services to 13 neighborhood households at speeds between 50 – 120 Mbps, with a latency of 12-15 ms, according to Mike.

Russ: How is the broadband distributed . . .?

Mike: “Our distribution is entirely fixed wireless. My house is the “main hub” and we have 2 other repeater sites, one is another member house, the other is on a members hilltop and is an entirely off-grid, solar powered, relay tower.”

Russ: Estimated start-up development costs and how was the development finances?

Mike: “We started up with 10 members for under $10,000. Joining members cover a share of the startup costs. We were able to bootstrap the network from the membership. “

Russ: The fee to join the network:

Mike: “The current fee is $500. This helps us buy all the necessary equipment and helps recoup some of the initial investment for the original members (who get paid back in lower cost service).” 

Russ: The average monthly user fees?

“$50-70. It is tiered based on when you joined and how many members we have. Our goal is $40-50/month once we have about 20 members.”

Russ: What is the growth potential?

Mike: “It’s limited by volunteer input.  Our goal right now is to get to 20 member households and then revisit our desire to continue growing. I believe this is a number where the monthly fees are low and the maintenance time and costs also stay low. One thing we have always had in mind was trying to inspire more local micro-ISPs and lend a hand where we can.”

Russ: What were the challenges in creating your non-profit corporation?  

Mike: “. . .There are definitely positives and negatives to the business entity. Doing it over again, I would at least consider a co-op model, especially if I wanted to try to grow it further. The non-profit was chosen primarily for the goodwill aspect, . .”

This project should inspire others to follow the Beckville Network model and learn from Mike’ experience. As he indicated above Mike is willing to help others form a micro-ISP. VAST has been very clear from the beginning they are not interested in working with individual users while providing access to businesses and corporations.

More of Nevada County can have access to a fiber optic network if they are willing to invest in the time and effort required to organize a neighborhood and create a corporate entity.  Mike and the Beckville Board of Directors have proven it can be done.  Let’s have less complaining about the lack of broadband access in Nevada County and more action!

What is the Price for Starlink Internet?

Inverse has a long write up on the SpaceX Starlink program HERE, including a demonstration of how capitalism and competition work in the broadband market.

Starlink could save consumers billions, even if they don’t choose to go with SpaceX for internet. A BroadbandNow report claims such constellations could save American households up to $30 billion per year. The logic is that increased competition will drive prices down: around 104 million Americans have one wired broadband provider in their area, and prices cost around $68 per month. Around 75 million have two choices, and they pay around $59 per month. The 14 million with five or more choices pay just $47, so adding Starlink into the mix could push people into the next lower bracket as the competition increases:

the-mean-lowest-price-over-time

Existing satellite offerings come to around $50 per month for service. If SpaceX wants to compete with other providers, a price around this area may not be unreasonable.

However, the startup cost could be between $300 and $500 for a terminal, which might put off some customers.  It will interesting to see how the package is bundled.